Review: “The Assassin Game” by Kirsty McKay

The Assassin Game by Jesse McKay

A review by Amanda.

At Umfraville Hall, an isolated Welsh school for gifted and genius teens, The Game is everything and sixteen year old Cate is ecstatic when she is invited to play. Cate isn’t particularly gifted, nor is she a genius. She attends Umfraville because her parents own the island that it was built on. Being initiated into The Assassins Guild is her dream come true because it means the she has been accepted by the in-crowd. It also means that she and her two closest friends, also members of the Guild, get to have some extra fun this school year. The Game is known by many names in other parts of the world – Assassin, Murder, etc. One player is secretly chosen to be the “Killer”; they have to “kill” their fellow players one by one without getting caught. There are rules, of course. The kills are actually harmless pranks meant to simulate gruesome deaths. No one should ever actually be injured while playing The Game. They must also be discreet enough to not disrupt school life and annoy the staff. The Killer must eliminate everyone in entertaining ways while the rest of the players have to do their best to figure out who the Killer is before being taken out and removed from play. Whoever is left standing at the end is the winner.

The Game begins as it always does, with a disgusting initiation for the newest members. Then, chaos happens. Rules are bent to allow a new student to play, a boy from Cate’s past whose appearance rattles her in more ways than one. Awkwardness abounds as Cate has to deal with the emotions of two boys that she kissed and then jilted, as well as some threatening notes that may or may not be part of The Game. Her focus is torn when people start getting hurt, for real. Is someone taking The Game a little too seriously, or is there a wannabe serial killer at Umfraville?

The Assassin Game had plenty of intrigue and thrills to keep my attention. Cate narrated as though she was confiding in a friend; she even addressed the reader directly once or twice. The mystery was a good one and the author did a great job of concealing the culprit until the very end. I definitely enjoyed the thriller aspects, as well as the descriptions of the setting. Emotionally, however, I felt like I was in the mind of a sociopath – Cate reacted to various situations appropriately but it felt as though she was simply going through the motions. I knew what emotions Cate was supposed to be feeling, according to the writing, but I could not connect those emotions to her character. It was a struggle to care about what she was experiencing. The other characters had even less depth, which made the story feel oddly lacking.

Ultimately, I liked this book but did not love it.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

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Review: “Fight Club 2” by Chuck Palahniuk and David Mack

"Fight Club 2" by Chuck Palahniuk and David Mack

A review by Domoni.

Fight Club 2 picks up 10 years after the original ended. Sebastian, the nameless narrator from the first book, is now married to Marla and they have a son. Living a basic 9 to 5 lifestyle, full of work, family and psychiatric medications, his fight club days are long past. Marla however feels like their love life has gotten a little boring, so she has been switching out some of his meds for placebos. A little bit of Tyler Durden in the night keeps her happy. But crazy slips easily through the cracks. Tyler is back and up to no good.

Many people in the world, not just Marla, were out to bring Tyler back from Sebastian’s subconscious. Tyler Durden is a genetic mental illness that can spread apparently. He is still plotting the end of the world and can control not just Sebastian, but Sebastian and Marla’s son as well. When he kidnaps the boy the parents go separate ways to find him.

Sebastian returns to the club. He infiltrates the group to find out where Tyler is holding his son and what his plans are. Marla goes back to a support group. She connects with a group of kids with Progeria and manipulates them into becoming her own tiny aged army. When the boy is located and Tyler’s plan to create his own sort of Noah’s ark comes out, will they save the planet?

So this sequel is in graphic novel form, which I was excited about. Reading it in the serials will probably be more difficult than the full omnibus edition though, because this book is kind of a mess. I was very let down by the chaos and the poor storyline. The writer injecting himself in such an odd way and addressing his readers dislike of the series was even more odd.

Even discussing the book is difficult as it was all over the place and chaotic to read. I did not enjoy it and doubt I will return for the proposed fight club 3. The last portion of the omnibus edition contains some interesting art and bits from the original as well as conversations about the planning of the books and was somewhat interesting to read through.

The art style was very impressive and my favorite part of the book. I enjoyed the line work and the watercolor dividers. I wish the story had held up as well as the graphics.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: 2/5 stars.

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Review: “Suicide Squad Volume 1: Kicked in the Teeth” by Adam Glass, Federico Dallocchio and Clayton Henry

Review: "Suicide Squad Volume 1: Kicked in the Teeth" by Adam Glass, Federico Dallocchio and Clayton Henry

A review by Courtney.

The Suicide Squad does not entirely fit within the parameters of comics I am generally drawn too, especially considering that this book has one female character and it follows a team of bad guys. Luckily for the Suicide Squad, they have Harley Quinn and I am always looking for more stories about her because I find her character so interesting. With the new Suicide Squad movie releasing only a couple of weekends ago, I felt it would be a complete miss if I didn’t review the book that made me fall in love with the group in the first place.  

This comic starts the way it needs to by giving us a brief introduction to each of the characters on the Suicide Squad: Deadshot, El Diablo, Harley Quinn, King Shark, Voltaic, and a couple other minor characters. We quickly learn that these characters are the worst of the worst and that they are going to get called in for missions that the government wants nothing to do with. To give us a prime example of what exactly that looks like, their first task is to wipe out a stadium of 60,000 people. The people in the stadium have been taken over by electronics and have all turned into terrifying robot powered zombies. It is just as weird as it sounds. The squad has to keep the mess contained and avoid the media finding out about what took place inside the stadium. The squad goes on other missions in the book and we see more character development and interaction between them which brings their characters to life. We also get to know the character of Harley Quinn more and how she interacts with people in her group. By the end of volume 1, we learn why exactly she is the most dangerous character of them all, which is a solid accomplishment considering all the characters she’s competing with.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this book; the art is not really my style and I’m not a fan of the way Harley Quinn is drawn in this book. I felt that the artist went out of his way to sexualize a character that in all honesty needs no help in that department. The storyline and character development were enough to help me stay interested and invested in some of the characters. This was my first time being introduced to the character of Deadshot and I appreciated how the writer walked the line in keeping him a bad guy yet showing us some of his heart. The characters are remarkably well rounded for the most part. I was unsure if I was going to be able to find characters I could root for in a team of all supervillains. However I was pleasantly surprised when I found the opposite to be true and in fact could root for all of them.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is over the age of 13 due to the violence and anyone who is on the fence about the new Suicide Squad movie.

My rating: 3.5/5 stars.

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Review: “Eclipse The Flame (Ignite The Shadows)” by Ingrid Seymour

Eclipse The Flame (Ignite The Shadows) by Ingrid Seymour

A review by Amanda.

Warning: This review may contain spoilers from book one, Ignite The Shadows. This review was also proposed by the author.

Two weeks have passed since Marci was unceremoniously kicked out of IgNiTe. Two weeks since she found out that her seemingly perfect twin brother is an Eklyptor. It’s also been two weeks of bliss, now that she’s dating her best friend. Marci and Xave couldn’t be happier or more in love despite the fact that he still works for James and IgNiTe, helping with the dangerous missions and tracking down the evil parasites, who seem to be growing in number at an alarming rate. When she isn’t with Xave, Marci is trying to get back into James’s good graces by spying on Luke, trying to find out the truth and find answers to all of the burning questions she has – like why she can’t sense the Eklyptor agent inside Luke.

One of Xave’s missions takes him to the same club that Luke is frequenting, so Marci follows him hoping to keep them both safe and get some answers. Before she can do anything, a fight breaks out with devastating consequences. That fight sets off a chain of tragic events, all affecting Marci deeply. Reckless and desperate, she takes matters into her own hands and ends up buried up to her neck in trouble. With help from unlikely allies, Marci makes sacrifice after sacrifice doing whatever it takes to save the world. Can she keep her mind intact or will her heroic efforts cost her everything?

This book immediately absorbed all of my attention and held it until the very end. Marci was a dynamic character, full of depths that even she didn’t know existed. Romance, intrigue, heartbreak, betrayal… this story has it all. It will draw the reader in and wring them dry, emotionally. All of that is in addition to the main plot, which is plenty captivating on its own. This is one of those books that will have you up all night, turning page after page, and leading to a book hangover of epic proportions.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

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Review: “One Piece: Baroque Works Vol 16-18” by Eiichiro Oda

Review, "One Piece, Baroque Works Vol 16-18" by Eiichiro Oda

A review by Hannah.

One Piece was started in 1997 and is continuing today. There are 81 volumes to date, which is why this series of reviews will be broken up into three volume books. From now on there will be spoilers for what happens in the rest of the series. You have been warned…

Luffy survives the avalanche relatively unscathed, however now he has to carry a sick Nami and a severely injured Sanji up the side of a cliff. They are being followed by Drum Island’s former king, Warpol, and his crew of pirates. At the top of the cliff, Luffy finds Dr. Kureha and her assistant Tony Tony Chopper. Chopper is a blue nosed reindeer who ate the Hito (Human) Hito Fruit. Dr. Kureha gives medicine to Nami, fixes Sanji’s spine, and tells them about Chopper’s tragic back story. After defeating Warpol in battle, Chopper joins the Straw Hats as their much needed doctor.

On the way to Alabasta, the crew learns how Sir Crocodile is taking over the country by being a hero and undermining the trust the people have in the king. They also meet Bon Clay a.k.a. Mr. 2, who can transform into anyone he has seen. The crew devise a plan to counteract his power.

Alabasta is a desert island in the middle of a drought. In Alabasta, we meet Captain Smoker again (vol. 11) and Luffy’s older brother Ace. Ace is a member of White Beard’s crew on a mission of vengeance against Black Beard, who committed the most heinous of pirate crimes. He also ate a devil’s fruit after leaving Luffy a few years ago. After a quick visit, he leaves with a promise that they will meet again on the high seas, then promptly destroys five enemy pirate ships single handedly.

The crew make their way to Yuba, where we learn more about Vivi’s childhood. She was friends with the rebel leader, and now he is being manipulated by Baroque Works into starting a civil war. Will the crew be able to stop the bloodshed before it’s too late?

What’s fun about Luffy is that he has secrets. He is an upfront, honest character, but the more you get to know him, the more you realize you don’t know anything about him. He’s not even hiding anything. He just doesn’t think about the past that much.

On Ace’s back is a tattoo with a symbol that looks like a face over a reversed swastika. This is not a case of an artist being a Nazi. The symbol in question is called a manji. Manji is an ancient Buddhist symbol and is often used on older maps in Japan to indicate the location of a Buddhist temple. Usually this symbol is used in a manga to indicate a bond between an individual and a family/institution. Often times an artist will use these symbols in the manga but any anime that follows will use some other symbol.

These three volumes are a build up. There is plenty of tension, but also plenty of laughs. We get to learn about Chopper, Princess Vivi, and Luffy. It’s a little slower than the other volumes so far, but it shows just how complicated the situation in Alabasta is.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

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Review: “Time Thief” by Katie MacAlister

Review: “Time Thief” by Katie MacAlister


A review by Vanessa.

Kiya Mortenson has found herself quite down on her luck. She’s out of a job, out of love, about to be out of a car that should have died ages ago, and she’s just been hit by lightning… for the second time. But things seem to be turning around for her when she stumbles across a genuine and gorgeous good samaritan in the form of one Gregory Faa. Gregory knows of a job that Kiya might be great at, but it would require her to stay in the forests of Oregon rather than heading back to her coastal home. Kiya decides to go for it, but when the job turns out to be puppy-sitting five pugs for a crotchety old gypsy lady, who happens to be Gregory’s grandmother, Kiya starts to wonder if it was really good luck. Mrs. Faa is very serious about her dogs, and the rest of the Faa family is very serious about keeping away any outsiders. Since they all apparently live in a suspiciously large group of RVs out in the woods, that is generally not hard to do. But something is going on with this strange group of people, and the mysterious cousin Peter who has joined them on their odd vacation.

Peter Faa is not just a gorgeous, violet-eyed mystery. He happens to be a member of The Watch, the police of the magical community. He is also not just visiting his family for pleasure; he is on an official investigation. Murders have been happening under mysterious circumstances and all signs point to the involvement of Travelers. Peter’s family is a well known group of Travelers: those who have a strange and powerful relationship with lightning, and time itself. The last thing Peter wants to do is go back to the family from which he has been estranged to possibly arrest someone for murder, but he has always followed his duty. When he runs into Kiya, a pleasant if vexing surprise, he finds it might not be so bad after all. But the family is as close-knit and unaccepting of anyone as they have always been, and one of them just might be a murderer….

A twisting and engaging plot pulls you into this book, and definitely does not let you go until the fascinating end.  The characters are each interesting, alluring, lovable, and irritating in fascinating ways. The main character Kiya is a little bit flighty, but altogether likable and easy to root for. Though she seems a bit lost, her experience in finding out who she really is throughout the story is quite captivating. Peter Faa is an enchanting character, with just enough gruffness and grumbly attitude to be charming, and a wholly good heart that will make readers just fall in love with him. The supporting cast of characters are no slouches either. There are characters you will love to hate, and ones that will drive you almost literally crazy. MacAlister builds on to her already wonderful universe of dark ones and dragons by adding a new and fascinating group to the mix: Travelers. Their relationship with time is a compelling hook for the story, and as usual Katie does a wonderful job of creating a whole new world for them to inhabit, right in the midst of the real world. This book is the first in a series that already has two books out, and I would highly recommend the series as a whole so far.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

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Review: “Monsters: A Love Story” By Liz Kay

Review of Monsters, A Love Story By Liz Kay


A review by Domoni.

Stacey is a mess. Recently widowed, and therefore a single mother to two young sons, she is just trying to hold her life together. Now she has to learn to navigate the world on her own while simultaneously being thrown into a whole new universe. Stacey is a feminist poet, who has no patience for the boys club. Her work has been optioned as a movie, and she is forced to work with egotistical Hollywood men to turn her collection of poems into a modern feminist Frankenstein movie.

Tommy is a cliche: the handsome movie star who always gets his way. Spoiled and full of himself, he can have any woman he wants. Surprisingly well read, he wants to make Stacey’s work into the moving story he knows it to be. He wants the poet too, and he generally gets what he wants.

This is an adult fairy tale of messed up realities. That makes it rather a good read for people who recognize the mess people generally are. Stacey does a horrible job adjusting to life without her husband, but I don’t think any wife can do a good job adjusting. Her struggles feel very real, from the guilt and anger at the first kiss with a new man, to the fear of letting herself fall for someone who she feels will break her already broken heart. The author does a wonderful job creating a strong but vulnerable woman who does not know how to be herself anymore. Stacey sets herself up and talks herself out of things. She is snarky and angry and emotional. She can stand up for her creation in ways she cannot stand up for herself.

Of course Tommy and Stacey sleep together and get involved in a messy non-relationship. She knows him to be a self centered jackass that sleeps around. So she doesn’t expect their relationship to be anything other than coworkers that sleep together. She refuses to look at the realities of what is evolving. She pushes and pulls at Tommy and blames him for not choosing her. When Stacey becomes involved with another man and pushes Tommy away, she spirals further into unhappiness. Pursuing the idea of a new life, Stacey agrees to marry Philip. He is a safe choice; a doctor who, while slightly boring, could be good for her and her sons. So why isn’t Stacey happy?

I was surprised by this story and how much I liked it. The characters were very real and human and messy. Grief is a hard road to walk and the story really respected how life must move forward, but the path is painful.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

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